The Los Angeles Kings, fresh off dumping Terry Murray as coach, roll into town tonight to face the Bruins. The Kings will be playing the game slightly more than 24 hours after swapping Murray for assistant coach John Stevens, who has been with the team since the beginning of the 2010-11 season. One has to wonder what type of Kings team will venture into the Garden tonight – a team galvanized by the firing of its head coach, or a team still dealing with the transition and not all there. Based on the chatter amongst Kings fans and some internal reports, it seems like the former.
Despite the reshuffling behind the Kings bench, it seems this matchup will remain a battle between an excellent road defense (Kings) and top home ice offense (Bruins), and inevitably one of the two will have to give – either the Bruins keep scoring like a runaway freight train at home, or the Kings clamp down on defense and keep in-check a Boston offense that averaged 3.8 goals per game at home since the start of November.
Hosting the Western Conference’s lowest scoring team may seem like a cure for a Bruins team that was shutout in their last home game, but Boston will likely head into the game without star defenseman Zdeno Chara. With starter Tuukka Rask never having played a game against the Kings, getting on the scoreboard early and clamping down on a less-than-potent Kings attack might be a successful blueprint for the Bruins tonight.
As for LA, an early goal(s) by the Bruins could send things into a quick tailspin. Jonathan Quick, one of the league’s better goalies so far, is trying to bounce back after a two losses where he allowed three and four goals, respectively. If the Bruins are able to put the puck on net early and often, there is a possibility of the trend continuing for Quick and the Bruins returning to the home blowouts seen regularly over the last month and half.